After months of speculation, it’s official: Stacey Abrams is not running for U.S. Senate against David Perdue (R-GA) in 2020.
In an interview with GPB News Monday night, Abrams said that she is also not ruling out a White House run next year but will also not provide a timeline for any decision on that race. There are currently 20 candidates running for the Democratic nomination.
Last November, just two weeks after the former gubernatorial nominee refused to concede the election but acknowledged she would not be Georgia’s governor, Abrams gave a talk at the TEDWomen conference about the election and what was next for her.
“There are three questions I ask myself about everything I do,” Abrams told the crowd. “What do I want, why do I want it, and how do I get it?”
With rumors of potential pathways running rampant in the last few months, I posed those same questions to Abrams now that decision day had arrived: what did she want, why did she want it, and how did she plan on getting it?
“What I want is to continue to address the challenges that I see in our state and in our country around voter suppression and making certain that people are counted in the census,” she responded, without missing a beat.
Abrams says the two are yoked together “because of a deep desire to address inequality and poverty” in Georgia and beyond.
“Why I want this is because I know what it feels like to be isolated from opportunity,” she said. “I know what it means to have your voice muffled by systems that are not serving their purpose and by leaders who do not serve the people.
And how does she get there?
“In this case, not standing for an office that is not the right fit for me,” Abrams said. “And so I've declined to run for the U.S. Senate.
The former state House Minority Leader said she will instead continue to work on two Georgia-focused initiatives, Fair Fight (dealing with Georgia’s elections) and Fair Count (dealing with the census) and find ways to “continue to center Georgia, but think about how we as a state continue to be a part of a national conversation.”
Abrams is a bit more coy when it comes to joining the crowded field of Democratic hopefuls trying to challenge President Donald Trump next year.
“I will say that I think the timetable is driven currently by anticipation and not necessarily by strategy,” she said. “I don’t feel the urgency that others do but that’s because I think about elections in a very specific way.”
Any decision made about that race will be made if and when Abrams feels it’s best for her and for Georgia.
“I will always center Georgia and center the South,” she said. “Those are the parts that draw me and they will always be core to what I do.”
Her next run is likely to be a rematch with Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, who narrowly defeated Abrams in a nationally-watched race that served as a proxy war over voting rights and the role the state should play in overseeing elections.
Abrams called Kemp the “architect of voter suppression” during the campaign, and alleged his tenure as secretary of state made it harder for minorities to vote. But Kemp pointed to a record number of registered voters, increased turnout and the state’s automatic voter registration policy as evidence to the contrary.
According to a recent Brennan Center study, Georgia registered 94 percent more voters since Sept. 2016 than if the state did not use automatic voter registration.
Whatever her next move is, the “how” may be easier this time.
Since the gubernatorial election and her TED talk, Abrams has maintained a highly visible national profile. She’s frequently found in headlines of national newspapers and magazines, has been making the TV rounds for the reprinting of her book and was the first African American woman to deliver the State of the Union response.
“My reason for running for Governor was simple,” she said, standing in a union hall in Atlanta. “I love our country and its promise of opportunity for all, and I stand here tonight because I hold fast to my father’s credo – together, we are coming for America, for a better America.”
Now that Abrams has made her intentions known in the Senate race, the Democratic field will quickly shape up. Former Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson released a statement Tuesday morning that she will formally declare her candidacy Wed. May 1, and several other Democrats could launch bids in the coming weeks.